UPDATE: Shafqat execution stayed… for now

Huge, heartfelt thanks to all those who raised a voice to save Shafqat Hussain. The President of Pakistan has reportedly granted a 72-hour reprieve (originally reported as ‘indefinte’) for the case to be re-investigated. This young man has spent 10 years or more in prison already, since the age of 14 when he was first arrested for the murder of a little boy who had been kidnapped. There are many flaws in the case that led to Shafqat being sentenced to death at age 15 after a confession extracted under severe police torture. He has not seen his parents since he left his village in Neelum Valley, Azad Kashmir to come to Karachi for work after dropping out of school (has a learning disability). The execution has been stayed – for now. It’s a temporary victory for those who’ve fought for his life. The question remains, will the government re-examine the evidence and move to give him justice? And how many more Shafqats languish, poor, marginalised and resourceless, in our prisons and death rows?

Journeys to democracy

Shafqat Hussain, photo taken before he left Muzaffarabad more than 10 years ago. Shafqat Hussain, photo taken before he left Muzaffarabad more than 10 years ago.

Who is Shafqat, why is he being hanged, and why should we¬†care?¬†What were you like when you were 14? Please watch¬†this¬†lovely little video¬†(also embedded below) and act to save Shafqat Hussain, death warrant issued (again) for¬†Thursday, March 19. Shafqat¬†was 14¬†when he left his village in Muzaffarabad, AJK, to go to Karachi looking for work. He was¬†dirt-poor and resourceless, tortured into confession for the murder of a child, tried under the Anti-Terrorism Act (because the murder ‚Äėspread terror in the neighbourhood‚Äô). The government-appointed lawyer never provided proof of his age. He was 15 when the court sentenced him to death. He has now been on death row for 10 years. In January,¬†his execution was stopped under pressure from people like us. Pakistan Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar had promised a re-investigation into the‚Ķ

View original post 66 more words

What were you like when you were 14? #SaveShafqat

Shafqat Hussain, photo taken before he left Muzaffarabad more than 10 years ago.

Shafqat Hussain, photo taken before he left Muzaffarabad more than 10 years ago.

Who is Shafqat, why is he being hanged, and why should we¬†care?¬†What were you like when you were 14? Please watch¬†this¬†lovely little video¬†(also embedded below) and act to save Shafqat Hussain, death warrant issued (again) for¬†Thursday, March 19. Shafqat¬†was 14¬†when he left his village in Muzaffarabad, AJK, to go to Karachi looking for work. He was¬†dirt-poor and resourceless, tortured into confession for the murder of a child, tried under the Anti-Terrorism Act (because the murder ‘spread terror in the neighbourhood’). The government-appointed lawyer never provided proof of his age. He was 15 when the court sentenced him to death. He has now been on death row for 10 years. In January,¬†his execution was stopped under pressure from people like us. Pakistan Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar had promised a re-investigation into the case. That never happened. There has been¬†no medical exam conducted for his age, and the state-provided birth certificate that proves his age has not been taken into account. Read¬†Fatima Bhutto’s¬†eloquent plea in NYT to save¬†Shafqat

Continue reading

It all comes together: Kashmir Day, banned organisations, and a warped narrative

DIG Khalique Shaikh and PPP leader Sharmila Farooqi negotiating with protesters outside CM House, Karachi. PPI photo

DIG Khalique Shaikh and PPP leader Sharmila Farooqi negotiating with protesters outside CM House, Karachi. PPI photo

It all comes together. When the Sindh government agreed on Tuesday to the demands of the citizens observing a sit-in for over 30 hours in protest against the Shikarpur blast, probably everyone forgot about Kashmir Solidarity Day. It has been observed annually in Pakistan every February 5 since 1991 when the Nawaz Sharif government during its first stint in power demarcated it as a national holiday. Continue reading

Pakistanis against terrorism: global protest vigils #ReclaimYourMosque

Pakistanis against terrorism: Shehroz Hussain speaking at the global protest vigil on Jan 16, in Boston

Pakistanis against terrorism: Shehroz Hussain speaking at the global protest vigil on Jan 16, in Boston

Shehroz Hussain was a foreign student from Pakistan, a freshman at college in the USA, when Taliban or their affiliated groups shot dead his father, Dr Riaz Hussain Shah, in front of his clinic in Peshawar in¬†January, 2013.¬†“In August 2012, as I stood at the airport to say goodbye to my family, I did not know I would never see one person again,” said Shehroz,¬†speaking at a¬†protest vigil last Friday in Boston’s historic Copley Square.¬†“That person was the one with the most tears. He cried so much that relatives joked with him. I will¬†never forget that night when I was woken up in the middle of the night on 9th¬†January, 2013, to the sound of my crying brother on the phone: ‘Baba ko Maar Diya‘. They have killed Baba.”¬† Continue reading

Who said moderate Muslims are silent? Pakistanis plan rallies to #ReclaimYourMosque

Irfan 'Khudi' Ali: a legacy of love and activism

Irfan ‘Khudi’ Ali: a legacy of love and activism

A series of protests over the next few days will demand the arrest of the head cleric of Islamabad’s Lal Masjid and condemn the Takfiri thinking that has killed innocents in Paris, Peshawar and beyond. My article in Scroll.in, slightly updated below:

By Beena Sarwar

January 10 marks the second death anniversary of the smiling human rights activist Irfan “Khudi” Ali.

The recently married 33-year old was eating dinner at home in Quetta on that day in 2013 when a suicide bomber blew himself up at a snooker club, killing 11. Ali rushed to help the injured and died when a second, more powerful bomb went off nearby minutes later, killing at least 86.

Both blasts targeted the Hazara Shia community of which Ali was a prominent member. He had in fact moved to Islamabad two years earlier due to threats, and was visiting his hometown when he died.

Commemorating his death and celebrating his life, his friends join others at vigils and demonstrations around Pakistan and the world marking other recent, shattering tragedies ‚Äď the attack on the army public school in Peshawar on December 16 that claimed the lives of 148 innocent souls, most of them children, and the January 7 attack on the Charlie Hebdo office in Paris that killed 12 people, including senior journalists and cartoonists. Continue reading

Pakistan‚Äôs Nobel Laureates ‚Äď united by the tragedy of militancy

My article for Scroll.in today about how “Takfiri” thinking drove physicist Abdus Salam out of the country, and keeps Malala Yusufzai away from her home.¬†

Malala: "I decided that I would speak up. Through my story I want to tell other children all around the world they should stand up for their rights"

Malala: “I decided that I would speak up. Through my story I want to tell other children all around the world they should stand up for their rights”

There is no escaping the irony that the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize for 2014 has gone jointly to two child rights advocates from Pakistan and India ‚Äď 17-year old Malala Yousafzai and 60-year old Kailash Satyarthi — while the armies of their countries trade bullets and kill innocents across the Line of Control in Kashmir. Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: